Normally it would take a while for Little League All Stars, plucked from various teams in the league for the District 13 baseball tournament, to click.
That hasn’t been a problem for this year’s Ahwatukee 12-year-old Majors, team manager Michael Mettner said.
Although Mettner and his coaching staff had a little more than a week to put the team together, they weren’t starting from scratch.
Most of the team has played together on All Star teams in the past and several are football players on the South East Valley Ravens youth football team, also coached by Mettner.
“That makes it nice for me,” Mettner said, “because I already know their attitudes. It’s a strong group of boys who like each other so they’ve meshed very well. That’s the fun part.”
There isn’t a lot of back to basics involved, he added.
“We just put the team together based on where they fit and had success,” he said. “But basically, we just go out to play ball.”
Mettner has managed other Ahwatukee Little League teams in the past and said working with the 12-year-olds, the oldest age group in the tournament, can be different from younger players.
“At this age they know what’s happening, their emotions and attitudes become a much larger part of the game than when they are younger,” he added.
To help keep the team headed for the same goal Mettner has named Garrett Redaja as the team captain.
“I know a lot of people don’t name a team captain,” Mettner said, “but he is always honest, knows what’s happening and is a reflection of how I do things.
Redaja is no raw rookie.
This is the fourth time he’s been named to an Ahwatukee All Star team.
“I sort of knew I’d make the team last year,” he said, “but this year there was a lot of competition so I didn’t know if I’d make it again.”
He has been playing the game for seven years.
“It doesn’t get any easier,” Redaja said. “When you get here everyone is good. I just try to keep everyone up. I’m pretty vocal.”
Redaja plays second base and catches.
“I like catching because you get to call the pitches and stuff,” he said.
The district tournament continues through Saturday, July 10 and the winner in the Majors age group continues on to the state, regional and, eventually, the Little League Word Series in Williamsport, Pa.
Over the past 10 years the district has been operating two Chandler and one Ahwatukee Majors team have made the trip to Williamsport.